Heretics by G.K. Chesterton
Heretics by G.K. Chesterton’s is a series of essays published in 1905. My familiarity with Chesterton includes countless mentions and numerous quotes. But this was my first foray into reading one of his books. And make no bones about it, Heretics is not an easy read.
Chesterton is known to write in paradoxes and with a wandering spirit. The 20 essays in Heretics covers a lot of ground and refers to many prominent artists, including literary figures, of his time. These include H.G. Wells, Rudyard Kipling and George Bernard Shaw.
You do not need to know much about the people Chesterton refers to in order to understand his points. Although understanding him completely might require multiple reads and further studies.
The “heretics” in these essays are people who pridefully espouse what they deem superior views to Christianity. Chesterton is highly critical on sensational journalism, the devaluation of families, and the superiority of academics.
One by one, Chesterton challenges the views of various artists not by calling them names or whining and complaining. He instead, methodically breaks down their views with logic. It is refreshing to read, even though it is somewhat difficult, this way of arguing.
Our current culture is more about “owning” someone or yelling at them with slogans and profanity or both. The inability to debate or discuss difficult ideas is the reason many of society are so close-minded and divided. Chesterton’s words might matter even more now than they did in his own time.
Heretics is often read with Chesterton’s next book, Orthodoxy; the two are often combined in one book. My plan is to read that next and see how much the two go together.
My advice is to give this book a chance. You do not need to be a scholar to read it, but it is definitely a challenge. A worthy challenge at that.